The Kate effect

Anisha Kidd


September 3rd, 2014

Anisha Kidd examines the economic influence of the Duchess of Cambridge.

The ‘Kate effect’ is now a widely renowned phenomenon, sought after by retail brands, commented on by fashion magazines and humbly accepted by the Duchess of Cambridge on both a national and international scale.

However, if you haven’t been keeping up with the nuisances of royal life you may have missed out on hearing about Kate’s unparalleled fashion iconography and hence economic impact.  Put simply, Kate’s fashion prerogative is the equivalent of a series of small, powerful retail stimulus packages, targeted at individual retail outlets and armed with the capacity to have long run positive sales effects on the brands that she graces with the midas touch.

Following her engagement announcement, Kate’s Issa silk sapphire dress with a retail value of £385 sold out within 24 hours, and the official portrait of the £159 Reiss dress sold out before the pictures were even released, selling at one per minute just prior to complete outage. More recently on the Australian tour, Kate’s adornment of the Australian designed Zimmermann ‘Roamer Day’ dress, retail being $495, sold out in pre-sale and afforded the designer Nicky Zimmermann a Vogue article amounting to ‘where were you when you found out Kate Middleton wore your dress?’.

Such is the allure of the Kate effect that it has fashion brands and magazines alike vying to get the exclusive on Kate’s next public outing. More significantly than the online frenzy, manufacturing overdrive and retail punch-ups surrounding her outfits is the long-term economic exposure afforded to these retail outlets.

Following her first official family portrait with Prince George, the ‘Seraphine’ brand that she graced experienced a 340% increase in expected profit to £1.1m, with revenues expected to reach £15m by 2015 up from £5.2m in 2013. The extent of demand in the ‘Kate market’ is so high in fact that even fair commoners have been able to exploit her consumer effect by selling dresses up 100 – 500% through eBay following a Kate sighting.

With the capacity to single handedly create million dollar brands, and pave the way for international expansion (Kate is attributed as the reason for LK Bennett’s expansion into North America given her international popularity) the Duchess of Cambridge brings new value to the economic power of the people, or in this case the person. Although for years celebrities have led the way as promoters and sponsors for specific brands the magnitude of Kate’s reach and regard has propelled her into the public eye and wallet. The Royal Wedding alone is accredited with a standout retails sales boost and period of economic confidence in what was a fragile period of economic recovery for the UK economy, with retail stores expecting to have reaped almost £480m of increased sales as a direct result of the momentous effect.

And yet with great power, comes great responsibility and given Kate owes her public status (and her fashion budget) to the realm of government, questions undoubtedly arise about the way in which she has a duty to wield this power – should it be exploited for the good of the national and global economy? Or should it be maintained by the Duchess to appeal to her individual appetite?

In time perhaps it will no longer be a case of Prime Minister David Cameron purporting a speech of economic growth to quell consumer dismay, as much as Parliament commissioning a royal shopping spree through Oxford St for the Duchess to sway the public sentiment. Or perhaps a Christmas in July event at Buckingham Palace to boost end of financial year sales as legislated by the leading party. God knows I would take note.

The views expressed within this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of the ESSA Committee or the Society's sponsors. Use of any content from this article should clearly attribute the work to the author and not to ESSA or its sponsors.

Founding sponsors




Gold sponsors



Silver sponsors